Farry’s dilemma over variable tuition fees deepens…

Good piece from Liam Clarke noting that the Scottish First Minister’s cunning plan to close the funding hole in his Higher Education budget by charging non Scotland domiciled students up to £9,000 pa whilst delivering it free to local students is facing a legal challenge, creates further problems for Higher Education minister Stephen Farry

It’s a particular problem for Queens – a member of the prestigious Russell Group of Universities, many of whom will have the freedom in England to put their fees up to the maximum – who have been fighting a rearguard action against departmental budget cuts of up to £40 million, on top of an already achieved £28 million.

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  • Mick,

    I think that should be “the self-selecting prestigious Russell Group”. The fees are going up in every university in England. The con attempted by the government was that only a very small number would charge the maximum of £9000 because stringent conditions would be set before you could do it. Two thirds of them have courses set at the maximum.

    As for Farry’s problem. I might have misremembered here, but I think Alliance supports water charges. I can’t see any crisis of conscience over higher university fees. Only a crisis of how far can we go without losing votes.

  • granni trixie

    Alliance seems to have been the sonly party which prior to the election were honest enough to tell the electorate that water charges were inevitable – but emphasised that charges must be on a fair basis ie those on low incomes must be accomodated in any payment scheme.

    I think that you will find that Allinaces analysis is proved correct.

  • iluvni

    Nolan’s interview with the utterly useless Farry, prior to the election, should be required listening for anyone who feels the need to defend Alliance.

  • South Belfast Hack

    Water charges hit the poorest hardest, tuition fees are levied on those who, with their university qualifications, have higher earning potential.

    As a rich person’s party, I can see Alliance’s dilemma.

  • Alliance was not the only party to say water charges were needed. The Green Party manifesto included water metering (with an initial free allowance to protect the poor), and not raising student fees. It was a fully costed plan, in which the student fees and the Green New Deal was funded by stopping building new roads (as opposed to maintaining existing ones) for 4 years.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Water charges hit the poorest hardest

    So do the charges for electricity, fuel, shopping, rates and all the rest. That’s not a reason not to do it, although it certainly is a reason why we need to make sure that the charges are introduced in a way that does not cause additional hardship.

    I don’t really understand why water charges are intrinsically more evil than charges for, say, electricity. If my water goes off for a day or two I can probably survive for a while on bottled water and careful washing. If the electricity goes off I’m buggered, life comes to a stop – no cooking, no TV, no light, no computer, no heating, no nothing.

    And what really does hit the poorest hardest is all the cuts to education, public services and other necessary things. Those cuts will have to be made if we don’t find ways to fund them.

    The argument in defence of the social mobility impact of tuition fees goes that university education tends to benefit the middle classes anyway. I don’t accept that particular argument although I’m not quite sure how to defend against it.

  • Mick Fealty

    I don’t understand why we’re talking about water charges on a thread about tuition fees.

  • CS,

    People already pay for water through their rates. That’s partly why it’s so iniquitous. Added to the fact that this is clearly the thin edge of a privatisation wedge and it gets people really angry.

    But heh, Alliance is the nice people’s party (similar to the Greends), and so nothing it could do is regressive. Especially not taxation.

    Mick,

    I guess you could see this thread as sidetracked. Or you could see it as part of a general assault on working people’s living standards, and that the issues are deeply linked, along with bailing out banks, spending billions on arms, privatising public companies and services at a price that massively rips off the public, subsidies to privatised companies.etc etc etc

    In short, the absence of any economic alternative offered by any of the Stormont parties (or Dublin or London parties). Varieties of neo-liberalism at best.

  • Cynic2

    “People already pay for water through their rates.”

    If that were true there wouldn’t be a problem. Its mostly paid for by Westminster

  • mark

    It’s odd that Scotland are allowed to discriminate against UK citizens from England, Northern Ireland and Wales, and yet have to offer their courses for free to other EU citizens as discriminating against them would be against European law.

    Are English, Welsh and Northern Irish citizens not also classed as EU citizens?

  • Mark,

    EU students, as far as I know, pay the same fees as home students. They don’t get the courses for free.